Lyceus Group

Check These Boxes to Make Sure Your Content Is Worthwhile

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Pity the lone marketing manager—a department of one or two trying hard to spread the fund philosophy gospel to any and all who will listen. We hear it all the time—the lamentations of a new content campaign. The pushback from the CEO who doesn’t see direct ROI, the Portfolio Manager who can’t be bothered, the CCO who’s nervous to publish anything. We also hear pleas from the wholesalers, “We need more than pitchbooks to give our prospects.”

Most marketing managers know they want to engage in some form of content, so before we jump into what will make your content valuable, here are three quick points to counter “No one reads it anyways, why should we waste time and energy?”

  1. SEO – you’re generating more content and links on your site, ideally, you’re generating a few new links to your site from other places, and you should be hitting important keywords that are relevant to your business in order to rank better for those terms as well.
  2. Relationships – you’re working to build your customers trust and to nurture a relationship. You’re showing them that there are people behind the corporation and that these people understand their goals and their struggles.
  3. Necessity — you can’t win a game you’re not playing. You may run the best liquid-alt fund around, but if no one hears from you, it doesn’t matter.

Now that you’ve convinced your higher-ups to greenlight your campaign, you’d better make sure it’s effective.

Here’s a checklist to guide you through development:

□ Is it OC?

You need original content. You don’t need to try and spin your firm’s take on dividend growth as revolutionary, but there better be something novel in your blog post about it, otherwise you’re wasting everyone’s time. If you’re writing on a topic that has been done several times before, make sure that your piece offers something that others don’t. Even if it’s graphics/animations, or a unique, hilarious, incomparable brand voice that keeps your readers engaged—just make sure you’re adding something of value, or those readers won’t be coming back.

□ Is it relevant?

Understand that if you’re looking to reach a broad audience with your content, your content needs to be relevant to a broad group of people. If you’re writing an article called “Tax tips for individuals with $1m+ annual salaries” you can guarantee you’ll see less traction than “5 tax tips most people don’t know.” And recognize, your current audience will be largely responsible for recirculating your content and that won’t happen if they’re turned away by just the title.

□ Is it useful?

Does your content provide your readers with any useful information, actionable items, or thought-provoking ideas? No? Well, the next time they see an e-mail from you they’re going to remember that two-paragraph sales pitch you sent last time and send you straight to the trash. If you must sacrifice volume for consistent substance that’s typically the way to go, especially for the clients we work with.

 

Here’s a pro-tip the capital markets consistently provide an avenue for new content that also lets your audience get a glimpse of your company’s thought process. Use the capital markets to tell us how you think about a security, a sector, or a macro trend. No one is expecting you to predict the future, but that gives your readers a worthwhile look into your process.

□ Is it consistent?

We hear it all the time, getting your PMs and partners to write more than 2 paragraphs is like pulling teeth, but consistency is vital. You’ll never see yourself become a thought leader in the industry without consistently being in the conversation. Some tips to make your life easier…

  • Start stockpiling timeless articles before you launch your content strategy. Even if it means delaying the start of your content strategy by a few months, it’s better to have a stockpile that you can send out when your PMs go dark rather than make your readers wait several weeks/months between posts.
  • Write the bones yourself. In writing, the hardest part is often getting started. We’ve seen a tremendous amount of success in sending PMs the skeleton of an article and having them just fill in their insight from there. It’s difficult to try and write on behalf of your PM since you can’t read their mind, but this helps coax it out despite their disdain for content creation.
  • Interview the Portfolio Manager. Set up a regular meeting with your PM so they can prepare. Once this becomes regular, it becomes consistent and easier. Your PR firm or external writer can help with this.
  • If you start something that reads Part 1, have Part 2 drafted and publication date ready. Don’t be the Hanging Chad of content.

Once you’re able to publish with consistency it is much easier to build your audience, leverage your content, and get in front of the people who are key to growing your AUM.

Content is arguably one of the most important and effective sources for garnering earned media in the future. Once you have several pieces of quality content it becomes much easier to leverage your blogs for placement in larger national publications. If you find yourself stuck or in need of help, make use of your PR firm. These placements then benefit your credibility, your SEO rankings, and your emergence as a thought leader.

If you can check these boxes, you’re probably off to a strong start in writing something people will care about enough to read. While there are other steps you should take while determining which content is most important to your readers (past open rates, recent trends, etc.) this should act as a starting point to determine whether or not it’s worth putting in the time developing an idea into new content.

 

Trevor Fennessy is an associate at Lyceus Group, an integrated public relations and marketing firm offering strategic communications counsel to the investment management industry as well as financial services and fintech companies.

5 Tips to Shape Your Shareholder Letter

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It’s that time of the year when portfolio managers, marketing, and compliance all perform the wonderful ritual of brainstorming clever unique ideas before running out of time and rapidly throwing together yet another quarterly letter.

Years of working both in-house and as a consultant have sharpened my eyes to the whole shareholder letter content creation process. So, until you decide to scrap it altogether, here are five things you can do right now to improve your letters and help them stand out.

Stop reporting on the market

I’ve argued before that you do not need to report on how the S&P 500 performed in a quarter, especially if it’s not your portfolio’s benchmark. Sure, you might need to mention it for compliance purposes, but it does not need to be your first paragraph. It shouldn’t be. You are not a reporter. You are the steward of your portfolio. Your clients look to you for guidance, insight, and security—not the latest moves of the S&P 500, Barclays Agg, or 10-year note.

Recently, when prepping a client for a media interview, my colleague Trevor offered some great thoughts on this topic. If you replace the word ‘reporters’ with ‘clients’, you’ll see the sentiment remains the same:

…reporters often supply the ‘what’ while fund managers are expected to explain the ‘why.’ Reporters would love to see just a bit more extrapolation in any of the topics you discussed. Why there are still thoughts of a global slowdown, what those fears may be, why small caps experience more natural volatility, etc. The more insight you can give them, the more useful your commentary will be to their piece …

By focusing on the why, you free yourself to write about your investment philosophy, which—after all—is why your clients are with you.

You don’t need to prove you’re smart

Too often, investment companies produce letters that sound dense, stodgy, and affected. That kind of writing is great for the Journal of Portfolio Management, but not your shareholder letter. Do you need to use the word ‘convexity’? Probably not. Approach your letter as if you were writing for USA Today, not the Financial Analyst Journal. Remember, a lot of intermediaries pass these letters on to end clients.

Most of your investors already assume you’re smart. They’re not looking for proof in your letter. Instead, they’re looking to hear how your investment philosophy will handle various market situations, from volatility, the Fed, M&A, to any other topic pertinent to your portfolio. Depending on your strategy, you may need to talk specific securities, or political climates in Ghana. Either way, this is the chance for your clients and consultants to see the world from the view of your investment philosophy, and by extension, your firm.

Picture This

Your shareholder letter is a story to your clients. By adding charts, memes, gifs, or other images, you bring visualization to an otherwise dry process. Pro tip: go to a meme generating site and create one that helps you explain you views or your investment process. Who knows, maybe it will even go viral. Images also provide you with something eye-catching to post on social media, if you go that route. Just don’t try too hard and risk becoming a meme yourself.

Be Authentic

The era of synthetic or manufactured commentary is over. If you’re not authentic, you’ll fail to gain traction with readers. As millennials enter management roles and Gen Z enters the work force, you can expect more pressure to sound relatable and more human. The less manufactured, the more accessible to the coming generations of readers.

Length

There are several articles on ideal length, and they vary by the depth of the article you plan to write. For a shareholder letter, which tends to be a great platform for longer communication, we follow the guidance from a study by Medium suggesting that reader engagement is about seven minutes, or about 1,600 words. Also, we’d also suggest that any article you write be at least 300 words, otherwise you might as well spend your time tweeting.

There you have it. A few simple tips to add a little oomph to the quarterly process.

 

Bonus Tip (lucky you): Formatting

Make sure your content is digitally digestible as well as printable. Those Gen Z types may consume everything online, but your Boomers may still want a printable version or pdf.

 

This article first appeared on MFWire as a Guest Column.

1 Big Thing: Your communication style is outdated.

 

The oldest millennials are in their mid-thirties and this could seriously impact how asset managers communicate with clients.

Why it Matters:

  • Older millennials are in decision-making positions at institutions, at consultancies, and at wealth management firms.
  • They are a larger age cohort than Baby-Boomers
  • They consume information differently that both Boomers and Generation X’ers

Be Smart: Asset management firms who can balance modern linguistic styles with their brand identity will be more likely to reach more potential clients in an era of peak content.

But, but, but: This doesn’t mean brands should forgo their traditional identity altogether. Instead they must fuse their brand with an emerging style. (more…)

From Commodity to Being Toasted

Don Draper: “The Federal Trade Commission and Reader’s Digest have done you a favor…what Lee Jr. said is right, you can’t make those claims and neither can your competitors.”

Lee Garner Senior: “So, we got a lot of people not saying anything that sells cigarettes?”

Don Draper:  Not exactly, this is the greatest advertising opportunity since the invention of cereal. We have six identical companies making six identical products. We can say anything we want.

Lee Garner Junior: But everyone else’s tobacco is toasted

Don Draper: No, everybody else’s tobacco is poisonous. Lucky Strike’s is toasted.”

If you replace the word cigarette with active management, this video might hit too close to home. From Barron’s to the Financial Times, we’re seeing a lot of volley back and forth on whether active management is dead or not. Given that we all have jobs, we can assume it’s alive. However, the challenge before us as marketers is not selling active management anymore. It’s distinguishing why your firm’s version approach to active management matters, works, and is better than everyone else’s.

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